Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers suggests that it takes 5,000 hours of "practice" to master a skill ... he gives examples of professional athletes (soccer and hockey players) and even some tech leaders (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc.) as examples of his theory.
Here is the thing ... going to work every day and blindly "doing your job" is not the same thing as 5,000 hours of "practice".
If you want to get better as a soccer player then you invest time in soccer specific training, and practice those skills in games.
If you want to be better as a recruiter then you invest time in recruiter specific training, and hone those skills on the job.
If you want to be a GREAT salesperson then you need to be constantly willing to learn about the profession of selling, and apply those lessons in your role.
Ask yourself some basic questions ...
Do you try to learn from others?
Do you read books and literature that will help you in your job?
Do you assess what is most effective under which scenarios?
Do you debate with your colleagues about what works and what doesn't?
Are you open minded enough to accept input, and try new things?
Do you take advantage of the opportunities your company provides for learning?
The people who excel and get to be great at what they do, apply themselves all the time.
Professional athletes don't achieve their level of skill without "working at it", business leaders don't achieve their success without "working at it" ... and that applies to all of us.
Every day we go to work to do the job that we are paid to do ... since we have to do it anyway, doesn't it make sense to strive to be the best we can be?
I think a lot of people don't apply themselves because they feel like they are doing it for "the boss" or "the man".
Some think it is far better to try and get by with the minimum possible effort.
Those people are really hurting themselves with that strategy.
We should make the effort, learn and get better for ourselves ... because ultimately it is us that benefits.
We benefit in increased skills, which are the ONLY job security in our 21st century workforce ... but we also benefit in increased self-esteem, personal satisfaction and a feeling that we are doing something worthwhile, not just "putting in hours".
Are you building up your hours of proficiency ... or are you stuck in the rut of "working for the man"?
"Practice like you've never won. Play like you've never lost."
Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)